Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Kurt Cobain!!!!

February 20th has been a special day for me every year since 1995. It marks the birthday of a man who is deeply a part of my life yet who I never actually knew – Kurt Cobain.

People think I am insane, still listening to Nirvana all these years later, playing my B-sides and rarities on repeat and banging away at E minors and F’s on my guitar. Just like in that Portlandia skit, the 90’s never ended for me and I don’t really care.

I really can’t imagine my life without Kurt Cobain. I’ve always been a music type but when I was 8 years old, my cousin Ken (shout out!) gave me the Nirvana single cassette tape of “Smells Like Teen Spirit/Even In His Youth.” Those chords changed my life.

It saddens me the stigma that surrounds Kurt because of his death. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget the fun loving and cheerful person he was. He wrote tongue in cheek songs making fun of The Andy Griffith Show (“Floyd the Barber”) and even tried his hand at making music for the Ren and Stimpy Show.

People also forget that he always a champion for equality long before it was cool to NOT be a homophobe or misogynist. He proudly wrote in the linear notes of Incesticide, “If you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us -- leave us the fuck alone!  Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.” David Geffen must have had a coronary.

I always hear, “Yeah and Courtney Love killed him.” Which I firmly believe is not true. In fact, I love that Kurt adored Courtney. He applauded her for being what men to this day abhor – outspoken, intelligent and brave.

Last year I commemorated my 30th birthday with a trip to Aberdeen, Wa., where Kurt was born and raised. I saw the tiny house he grew up and sat on the muddy banks of the Wishkah River where he used to bide his time. Walking the streets of his town, it really made me think about the pastoral small life he had lead and how jarring and rough his sudden explosion of fame and the outside world must have been to him. Aberdeen is one of those places that could in no way prepare you for the trappings of fame and excruciating popularity.

They say he was the voice of a generation. I don’t know about that but he was, as I wrote in black Magic Marker under the Wishkah Bridge, a light for me when all others went out. When others gave up hope, I gave in to Kurt’s Nirvana and I am forever in debt to his priceless advice.

Happy birthday, Kurt.

Peace, love and empathy…

 The tape that started it all...
My favorite grin ever... (: 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Work in progress - ROUGH DRAFT - Dead Birds and Mulch


        Dido put down her coffee cup and stared at the computer screen with
more interest and wonder than it deserved. It was winter time and she felt cold and insecure. She distracted herself for a moment with a trinket – a small cat keychain her daughter had bought for her at the Christmas Fair back in ’92. She wondered if somewhere out there, in the foggy night, if her daughter ever thought of her and her
suburban Philadelphia life or remember all the times she drove her to soccer practice and spelling bees and all those other American perfect pleasantries.
        She scrolled through her aol account. Bills, bills, the bold herald of an email. Nothing from Michael just yet.
        She placed the coffee cup on the coaster and adjusted it accordingly. Everything in its place. Waste not, want not. All the axioms of a truly American woman – albeit one alone with her thoughts and an AOL Instant Messenger account.
        Dido looked at the numbers on the microwave. They blinked 7:00. This
was the time she usually spet washing dishes after cooking a fresh salmon and mustard meal , listening to her carefree kids on the couch, watching cartoons. Her husband napped on the sofa, a blanket covering his eyes from the light as she scrubbed away at the pots and pans, adjusting the heart chain around her neck.
        The pile of envelopes on the table caught her blue eye. She put her
chin in her palm. A bill from Dr. Mulligan. A notice from the Philadelphia Electric Company and the Department of Health. It was just all too much to address at once.
        She wondered if he would get online tonight. If he would type to her that everything was going to be alright and that she wasn’t alone. Sometimes he used adjectives she didn’t understand so she bookmarked Dictionary.com as a reference.
        There was something odd about waiting for him every night at the same time. When they chatted it was like all was forgotten. Her world of Kohl’s and working part time book keeping at Carpet World. None of it mattered. She felt like one of those princesses in the stories her
goddaughter at Harvard used to write about.
        Princess. That wasn’t something she could have ever related to. She wore denim and cotton every day. She owned nothing with lace.
        She remembered the day he asked her for a topless photo. She had been
caught up and distracted at work. The day was full of clouds and Carly
Simon kept coming on the radio and her morning coffee wasn’t doing
what it was supposed to. They had been chatting online all morning and
she just got lost in the moment.
        She felt like she was 16 again – like she did in the days of jean cut offs, aluminum beer cans and brown rusted Pintos by the lake. The days when she had long hair to her waist and used to kiss boys in the thickets of upstate Pennsylvania forests. Those summers felt like they would never end  - fireflies, Led Zeppelin on the radio and shirtless boys with mustaches.
        But now Dido  was in the bathroom, hiking up her shirt to reveal a
pastel waist, fraught with Caesarian scars and marks from eating chocolates and drinking wine late nights alone in bed. This was the body she was coming to know and for some reason, this inviting stranger took an interest in it. More than her husband ever had.
        She was wearing a red lace bra – brand new from JcPenney’s. She had
smiled to herself when she bought it.
        Dido  used her Nokia and snapped a quick picture of herself in the mirror and rushed back to the beige office where she worked. She immediately asked him he received the picture. When he replied “NO” her heart sank deep into her stomach. She looked at her phone.
        Had she accidentally sent it to her husband? Had it become lost in the Cyber Universe? Did her BOSS see it?!
        The seconds felt like an eternity. Anticipation was becoming the
underlying feeling of her life.
]       “GOT IT! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!@!!!!!!”
        He typed back. Textual tension.
        Her heart readjusted itself. She pulled out a Marlboro from her 1988 brown cigarette case. She lit up right in the office, knowing full well it was forbidden. But nowadays the forbidden was all she was about.
        As the weeks went by, she kept taking pictures for him, each time in
some not-so-secluded location. At work, in the Target restroom. She thought she had mastered the side angle of herself that showcased her best features. She now went to Boscov’s once a week for a  new pair of underwear. Her red cell phone rang. It was her daughter phoning it in from a quick jaunt to Italy. Dido ignored the call and kept on shopping.
        Her life was changing – finally. After all these years, the suburban nightmare was ending  and someone was finally loving her for who she was. She WAS beautiful, dammit, and thinner than anyone else in the neighborhood. Why wouldn’t a hygienist married with his own family want her?!
        One November afternoon, she realized they had gone an entire day without chatting.  It was 4 o’clock and she lingered in the office waiting for him. She attempted to distract herself but it was impossible.
        What am I doing with myself?! she demanded and cried gobs of mascara
down her cheeks.
        It was hard to drive home that day – with the tears in her eyes blurring the way. She went home and turned on Oprah, mindlessly devouring a bag of Hertz potato chips. She had started LIVING for these chats. It
wasn’t about Jillian and Nathaniel anymore or Lionel or Sylvia or Alan. It was for these stolen sentences on the screen on her Dell that made her want to wake up in the morning.
        It crossed her mind to toss the computer across the room. That $500 machine only brought her misery.
        But she left her Instant Messenger open – hoping she might hear the twinkling spritely noise that heralded his return to their little world. Sure enough…
        It was February now.

            The waiting room at Dr. West’s office smelled like apple juice. That’s what Yankee Candle had intended. Dido  looked to her left to a stack of Entertainment Weekly. She nervously adjusted herself in the seat- straightening her posture and tucking a weft of Clairol colored hair behind her shoulder. In her head she had practiced answers to questions she thought the doctor might ask.
            Had she ever smoked marijuana?
            Ever contemplated suicide?
            What is your favorite color?
            Dr. West entered the room with squared white teeth as Dido  was muttering something to herself. Dido  immediately noticed the doctor’s bronzed knees peaking out from underneath her dirndl skirt. The  white teeth shook her hand.
            “So nice to meet you! Come upstairs.” This doctor cooed like a pigeon.
            “So tell me,” looking her in the blue eye as she crossed her denim legs, “What brings you here?”
            A question Dido  had not anticipated. She had thought the session would begin with something like a Rorschach test.
            Dido  scanned the room and noted how much she loved the cat print quilt draped over the spare chair.
            Dr. West smiled.
            “I am not sure if I am having what may or may not be considered an affair.”
            The doctor did not stir.
            “Tell me about that.”
            It felt strange to say that sentence out loud. All of the months she had quietly kept this to herself – not mentioning it to her neighbor Denise or coworker Angie, her pals and confidants. As she annunciated each word, her internet tragedy became more than just html and binary code. It felt as though she somehow was being drowned in a digital bath. She wasn’t sure how but it did. In her mind, she envisioned her husband, his bloated bell over her in the lavender scented bubbles of chat pop ups and memes wrapping his palms around her throat and plunging her face beneath the water made up of 0’s and 1’s.
            Marilyn asked her a lot of questions and Dido coolly supplied her with many answers in return. But the whole time she was fixated on thoughts of that technological bath tub and maybe, just maybe, visions of her family’s finch lying belly up in sawdust at the bottom of his cage.

            “I’m going to Prague, Mom, and may never ever come back,” the telephone receiver said. “But I may come home for a few days to see you because I don’t know if and when I’ll afford to do that again.”
            “Ok,” Dido  said flatly, staring at the mirror. “You should do that.
            “Thanks, Moooooom,” Jillian purred and hung up.
            “Mom,” Nathaniel  shouted from the foyer through all American orthodontia. “I’m going to Alex’s house. See you Monday!”
            “Ok,” Dido  replied feebly. “You should do that…” Voice trailed off into the air.
            The phone rang again. It was Lionel on the line telling her her was going to be late at the shop again.
            “Ok. You should do that.”
            By the time Dido  put the receiver back in its cradle, smoke was bellowing from the kitchen.
            Today she had chipped her best Revlon nail polish and burnt the meatloaf.

            Dido  was wearing grey sweatpants and maroon Keds the evening the cops took her away. As the cameras flashed in her face, she noticed she had forgotten to water the azaleas and that the mulch was distributed evenly. How embarrassing. Her outdoor cat, Mimsy, cradled a dead sparrow in its paws and looked up at her with dishsaucers.
            “You monster!” Denise next door screamed in her bathroom. Mimsy, at the sound of her shrieking, dashed off, leaving the sparrow behind.
            The soles of the Keds sneakers were stained with dark dried blood and they pressed into the soft earth beneath them.
            In the crowd, she caught the gaze of her dentist – the second time she had seen him face to face since their romance had commenced. His arms were folded and he shook his head.
            Last week they had met at the studio Dido ’s father in law had maintained. They kissed and caressed on the concrete floor of the garage as a dust covered stereo played Journey.
            Dido ’s eyes were shut as she thought of summer and jean cut off shorts and brown Chevrolets and feathered hair.
            When she opened her eyes, she saw the round figure of her disapproving husband looming above the kissing couple – about to spew profanity of the most depraved kind.
            She had decided to do it when the divorce papers arrived promptly on her desk. Dido took her keys and cell phone and an abnormally large box cutter the owner of Carpet World had left behind.
            At home her children lie selfishly asleep in the haze of a Wednesday afternoon. Jillian had swallowed a Melatonin pill in preparation for the jet lag before her and Nathaniel had smoked his father’s marijuana to himself on the terrace.
            No one had bothered to take out the trash or clean the unwashed dishes or put the wet towels in the dryer. Lionel, too, lie peacefully asleep upstairs taking a break from doing absolutely nothing.           
            Dido wasn’t sure of what she was being asked by the reporter as she said, “No comment.”
            All she could think about was getting a new gmail account and picking a new favorite color.

Note: This is a really, really rough draft. I know there are at least 2 parts that are repeated and I am just trying to decide where in the story I would like to keep them. Just thought I'd share with everyone this work in progress. 

While I appreciate constructive criticism, if you are one of those individuals who has nothing to say but that my writing is "cliche," I don't really care to have your input since I'm pretty sure you don't attempt anything anyway.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”


Saturday, February 16, 2013

NEGOTIATING with God – How to Survive the Lenten Season Sinfully Unscathed

Since last Tuesday, my coworker and friend Jackie has been suffering from the Lenten blues. I felt horrible on Friday when my other coworker, Koti, made her famous taco dip with beef and Jackie couldn’t have any because you can’t be Catholic and have meat on Fridays during the Lenten season. I immediately reminded Jackie that it was already Saturday in Australia and since this was true, she could have meat and just consider herself on Australia time.

I stopped observing Lent years ago when I put my dog Sammie to sleep. I decided if God took away the one thing that made me happy, that was my biggest sacrifice and I didn’t need to practice Lent anymore.

So I have devised a few hot tips for negotiating with J.C. and Big Daddy this Lent season.

If you watch this film, your sins are pre-emptively forgiven for the next five years. Says who? Says I – who specialized in Reformation studies in college which is just as good an authority as any…

Jesus suffered on the cross and suffering through a workout sucks pretty badly. So if you can do this, it’s pretty much in accordance with the idea that we are identifying with the suffering of Christ.

If you want to have pepperoni on your pizza or a taco for lunch, remember that it’s Saturday somewhere and that God is all encompassing and all understanding. He can understand you need to eat meat or you’ll fall over and look pale like a vegan.

Because if God didn’t want you to be drunk, he wouldn’t have invented alcohol. Want proof He invented it? They SERVE it in most churches. So there.

My grandfather taught me this one. As long as you are watching a mass it pretty much counts.

And say a prayer before you eat it. It’s like the body of Christ each day!

So this Lenten season, instead of stressing over what you can and cannot do, just take my advice and make a bargain with God!

Friday, February 15, 2013

References available upon request...

I wish resumes and CVs would have a section that highlights your REAL skills. I think my CV should have the following skill set listed:

  • Holding my purse and a cup of coffee and pressing elevator buttons and changing songs on an Ipod

    Eating over 14 Funfetti cupcakes

    Impersonating Winona Ryder reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

    Being the Office D.J. in residence

    Making out to Alcest and Depeche Mode, respectively

    Chugging NyQuil and not falling asleep

    Walking through medieval cities and coming up with reasons to hate on newer ones like Tokyo  simultaneously

    Coming up with animal acronyms like “Secret Squirrel” and writing acrostic poems

    Writing in cursive and drunk texting

    Recommending Netflix movies 

    Dancing like Beyonce in high heels

    Pinterest. Enough said.

    Acting eternally 17 years old and keeping 90’s music alive.

    Surprising people. 

I mean with this skill set, who wouldn’t want me on their  team? Duh squared…

Monday, February 11, 2013

mOnDaY mixTape, wiNteR loVe, and the rOot of aLL eViL


1.      "Precious" Depeche Mode
2.      "Blandest" Nirvana
3.      "I Nearly Lost You" Screaming Trees
4.      "Savory" Deftones
5.      "Pumpkin Patch Murders" Blitzkid
6.      "London Dungeon" The Misfits
7.      "Last" Nine Inch Nails


There is still a good 10” of beautiful thick snow here in NYC. In honor of le neige and all things Scandinavian after my own heart, I put together this awesome list of films to watch whilst enjoying the winter weather!
7. NOI THE ALBINO (thanks, Bill)


I remember my 4th grade teacher, Sister Helen at Our Lady Prison
House, had two sayings on repeat.

Saying Number 1: "Sweet spirits of Camphor!" She always said this when
something seemed to be going wrong and to this day, I have no clue
what she was referring to. I could Google it, I know, but I think I
prefer still being baffled by it.

Saying Number 2: "Money is the root of all evil!" Sister Helen was the
sweetest lady, a Franciscan nun who could teach the history of the
Algonquians and Iroquois like it was nobody's business. Sister Helen
used to treat all of fourth graders like we were purely magical
creatures that would exist only for a moment. Some of us would grow up
to be world losers and world forsakers, some of us would be poets,
others paupers - but to her it didn't matter. Because she just loved
and adored us for what we were in that moment - impressionable little
fledglings she could unleash upon society.

Her second saying has always been something that stuck with me. I
guess I am so poor because I have never been the savings account time
(much to my grandmother's dismay) and I always would prefer to spend
my paychecks on friends and good times.

e.e. Cummings once wrote, "I'm living so far beyond my means that we
may almost be said to be living apart." That rings true for me -
especially as a New Yorker where you've spent $20 once you've walked
out your door and aren't even sure of where it went.

So in honor of Sister Helen, e.e. Cummings and my dedication to living
the life of a pauper, here are some of my favorite quotes about money.

"There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But
this ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's
all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for
something as common as money. Are you a dummy? "
-       Grandpa George, Charlie and the Choclate Factory

“So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it.”
-          Marge Gunderson, Fargo

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."
-- Oscar Wilde
"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people
he gave it to."
-- Dorothy Parker

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves
with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes,
working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the
middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great
War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great
Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to
believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and
rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And
we're very, very pissed off."
-       Tyler Durden, Fight Club